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July 3, 2009 Letters to the Editor

No fan of excise tax

In opposing a citizen’s initiative to reduce Maine’s auto excise tax by half, Maine Municipal Association lobbyist Geoff Herman relies on an interesting fact.

In his testimony at a public hearing on the initiative before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee on March 26, Mr. Herman said: “There is nothing new about the motor vehicle excise tax. The motor vehicle excise tax was enacted essentially in its current form 80 years ago.”

He parroted this statistic again in a June 16 article in the BDN, “Battle brewing over bill to reform Maine’s excise tax,” where he said the excise tax was created in 1929 and was amended only once.

Are Maine taxpayers supposed to feel good about paying such high excise taxes simply because the tax is older than most Maine residents? Maine’s auto excise tax is the nation’s seventh-highest, while residents in 22 states don’t pay an excise tax at all.

If I were paying less in excise taxes, I know I wouldn’t feel I was undermining my Maine values. And I certainly don’t feel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when I go to my town office to pay the excise tax every year, as Mr. Herman would have us believe.

Mr. Herman is doing his best to appeal to Mainers’ sense of duty and pride in his oft repeated point that Maine’s excise tax is 80 years old.

Perhaps I am heartless or stubborn, but I disagree that supporting local tax relief makes me any less of a Mainer.

Sterling Pingree


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Churches, free speech

I noticed a few letter writers want the Maine Revenue Services or the IRS to take away the tax-exempt status of churches that try to overturn the gay marriage law. They say this should be done because these churches shouldn’t be involved in politics. Does this also include the churches that are for gay marriage?

Homosexuality and gay marriage are religious issues as well as political issues. The Democrats created this problem.

Churches against gay marriage should be able to say God considers homosexuality and gay marriage evil and churches for homosexuality and gay marriage should be able to twist God’s truth into a lie. They want to take God’s high standard for marriage and pollute it so anybody sexually perverted can be married.

In 1954, then Sen. Lyndon Johnson had the IRS code changed to silence his political enemies from speaking out against him. The change prohibited churches and other nonprofit groups from opposing or endorsing people running for office.

Churches shouldn’t have their freedoms of religion and speech restricted. The liberals will say or do anything to accomplish this because they want to control people who don’t agree with them. The separation of church and state is a liberal myth just like evolution, global warming and homosexuals are born that way. It is not in the Constitution. And God wouldn’t make homosexuals born that way and turn around and say it’s a sin.

Janice Bodwell


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Money not well-spent

Both sides of the gay rights marriage issue are gearing up for a battle and according to an article in the June 18 BDN, an estimated $4 million to $6 million will be spent by the two sides.

Those millions donated to Good Shepherd Food Bank would feed a lot of hungry Maine families.

Four to six million dollars would provide a lot of low-income Maine children and their parents with warm clothing for the coming winter.

Four to six million dollars would provide a lot of children from low-income families with desperately needed dental care.

Four to six million dollars would provide a lot of fuel assistance for low-income families to stay warm this winter.

I have thought about it and I think that both sides should shake hands, go home and spend their money on more humanitarian causes.

Betty Q. Chiappone


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Road fix killed

Reference is made to the BDN’s June 24 article “Stripped DOT paving budget jars road repair crews, towns.”

As a Republican senator on the Transportation Committee, I had a great amendment: S-335 would have repealed gas tax indexing, equalized the gasoline and diesel fuel tax and increased the tax 2.5 cents on July 1 and 2.5 cents on April 1 of next year.

My amendment got buried in politics and died. It would have solved this summer and future paving problems.

Sen. Walter R. Gooley


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Protecting Ellsworth

The Ellsworth City Council met on June 15 to discuss a new automobile graveyard-junkyard on North Street. Many of my neighbors attended the meeting out of concerns for their property. We are in an area that has wetland, springs, vernal pools as well as Graham Lake. Two people who abut the proposed junkyard have organic farms, and an organic cranberry bog.

At the beginning of the meeting the city manager mentioned that Ellsworth needed to become more green. I was impressed because that was our concern, to keep our area safe, green and organic. One junkyard on North Street is enough. That one is not near the springs, wetland or the lake.

Then there was a discussion about the state wanting Ellsworth to adopt new rules on zoning for shoreland. One of the councilors stated that he disliked the state imposing its rules on Ellsworth. His attitude was that this is our town and we should not have these rules imposed upon us. He was the same person who later wanted to push the automobile graveyard on us without a complete application.

This is why there has to be state regulations, because if someone is turning in an incomplete application with disregard to springs, wetland, etc., is he going to be the type of person to ensure that no damage happens to other people’s property as well as the lake? This project needs to have an environmental impact statement done before proceeding. There is too much at stake.

Ellsworth has two automobile graveyards. How many more do we need?

Bonnie MacGregor


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Tradition and virtue

In Robert A. Simpson’s letter to the editor of June 19, he expresses consternation at the removal from state marriage law of a section referencing “the moral values inherent in traditional monogamous marriage.” He asks revealingly why “those who claim to want marriage for themselves” deleted this section.

Leaving aside the idea that same-sex partners only “claim” to want equal marriage rights, does Mr. Simpson really not understand that few of the people who voted for this change are gay?

Our elected representatives, almost all of whom already enjoy the benefits of marriage, realized that tradition is no virtue when it condemns our fellow Mainers to a second-class status.

Richard D. Simpson


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